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Thursday, September 18, 2014

suffering

This post is written from the standpoint of a believer in Christ and isn't meant to be interpreted by a believer not in Christ.
It is so refreshing to be shown wisdom from the Holy Spirit.  It seems it has been several years since I have been encourged like this with His Truth.  But then it says "you reap what you sow" and I have not sown time into His Word habitually in the past long time--especially with a truly seeking heart.
Anything and everything that encourages me recently deals with the issue of suffering.  Whether it's Christians suffering because of righteousness' sake, or Christians suffering because it's a Fallen world, or whether it's anybody suffering because it's a Fallen world.  Since we live in this kind of a world, there will be suffering. 
Every story in Scripture includes an aspect of suffering.  All over the New Testament we are warned of suffering.  We are encouraged as believers in Christ to expect suffering. 
I suffer all the time.  Only because I live in such a comfortable place, my sufferings are sufferings of affluence.  That's a good way to put it.  I suffer out of having an abundance of riches and material.  Possessions.  And yet, how do I act when I suffer?   How do I act when I lock the keys in the car.  How do I act when it's hard to get along with those I love?  I don't have any enemies.  Nobody is coming after me because of my beliefs.  My enemies are the people I love--at least, those are the people who are hardest for me to love.  How do I fail at loving those close to me?  And how do I act when I am late for something--totally sinless?  When I wish I worshiped with perfect people instead of people like me--people who don't have it all together and don't even try to enough or who don't have all the 'correct' thoughts about God, when these people aren't enough for me--how do I treat them?  Do I even think about others at church or do I only think about myself?  Am I thankful for my circumstances or just bitter that I can't seem to get everything running smoothly enough.
Consider the interests of others and don't merely look to your own interests.  Regard one another as more important than yourself.
So those are some of the ways I suffer.  And it dawned on me that when I miss those opportunities to put on Christ, then I AM MISSING THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY I HAVE.  Therefore, my blessing is small because a true blessing is being conformed to the image of Christ.
Others who suffer in real ways and are acknowledging Christ and are thankful for their circumstances are being blessed HUGE because this was how Christ suffered.  And it's a lie that this earth is just a fun check in point for Christians because we're saved into heaven and the party is starting now and then we die and go to heaven to party some more.  I don't know how else to put it.  The Bible told us how it all began, how God wanted it, and then how we intervened and then what happened after.  And the Bible tells us what it was like for people who loved God and how it was for Christ.  But now here we are in America and it seems we're kinda beating the odds.  Because life is pretty great.  And we're rich but we're still going to heaven so what was all that "eye of a needle stuff."  Oh well.  Well and there's nothing wrong with being rich, so I'll just share some of my stuff and then I'll really be safe.  And treat others nicely. 
If that's being a missionary to America and that's what God means for my Christian life then there's too much missing in my theology and I'm not buying it.
So one thing I'm getting at is that I cannot complain about suffering in the world of any sort until I in my own suffering allow the Spirit to produce Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Love, and Self-control.  If I don't exhibit the evidence of the Spirit in my life in this way, it's not that I don't deserve to pray to God with anguish about this world, it's that I obviously don't understand this worldI don't understand what place suffering has in this world for Christians or for any "deemed innocent."  But when I read His Word and really count on it for truth that stuff just instinctively to my Spirit seems in line.  Not that God initially ever wanted any of His Creation to suffer but that we set it up that way.  And what God is doing about it in love is that He is using the outcomes to work together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.  I will trust Him in this instead of using my senses to come to a different conclusion which is only natural and caused the pain in the first place.  I believe that.  The pain is coming from reaching our own conclusions instead of trusting in God's Word.  And I cannot exempt myself from being part of the Problem.

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